Jul 30, 2006

The Playgatherer

I spent a Sunday recently with playwright William Mastrosimone, and he told me about his new old play A Stone Carver. Report here. (And no, I don't have a new byline—the Times just got all formal on me.)

Jul 28, 2006

Mr. O'Brien Goes to Washington

My report on Bill O'Brien, Deaf West managing director and producer, as he heads for a new job at the NEA, is here.

Jul 26, 2006

Jul 19, 2006

It's His World, We're Just Listening In

Alex Ross's new piece in The New Yorker, about Mozart, is breathtaking. Is there a better critic of anything writing anywhere today?

Rivera's Edge

It's sorely missing from a new production of Cloud Tectonics at Culture Project. I reviewed the original production at La Jolla Playhouse about 11 years ago, but alas—my old copies of Back Stage West are in a storage locker in Glendale, Calif., and reviews that old aren't online. So I had to come to the play fresh, again—somehow appropriate for this meditation on time (and on Los Angeles, specifically the Silverlake/Echo Park area I called home for 15 years). My review of the new production here.

Jul 17, 2006

Sun's Back

I'm not just talking about the heat, I'm talking about Nilaja Sun's must-see show No Child... My review here.

Jul 11, 2006

Zero Minus a Few Years

The Zero Mostel bio-play Zero Hour, featuring Jim Brochu, at Hollywood's Egyptian Arena Theatre, looks and sounds like fun. But I was startled to read in Deborah Klugman's LA Weekly review that it's set "in 1962 shortly before the comedian's death." I know from his essential work in The Producers (1967) and his memorable appearance on The Muppets (some time in my '70s childhood) that this date had to be wrong, so I looked it up. Imdb tells us that Mostel died in 1977, at the age of 62, leaving the world a poorer, quieter place.
I never had the privilege of seeing the great man onstage, but I remember sitting next to a woman at a Reprise! performance some years ago who said, in possibly a slight exaggeration, that Mostel's not being cast in the film version of Fiddler was a "crime against humanity." Against humor-anity, certainly.

Jul 6, 2006

Che's Club

My review of School of the Americas is here.

Jayson With a Y

I didn't know Jayson Raitt all that well when he worked at the Pasadena Playhouse, but in a fortuitous coicidence, he relocated to the Big Apple about a month after I did. Since then he's been a frequent theatergoing plus-one, particularly for musicals, and it was he who introduced me to the clubby after-show tradition of Angus. Among his many gigs since he's arrived has been as a producer for the National Alliance of Musical Theatre's new musicals, and as impresario of a new cabaret space at the old Gotham comedy club on 22nd St. It's called The Metropolitan Room and it's kicking off in earnest on July 19 with a show by Valarie Pettiford, a Tony nominee for Fosse. I recall her definitive turn as Julie in Harold Prince's Show Boat at the Ahmanson, though I didn't make it back to L.A. to see her in the Blank's Wild Party last year. She'll appear July 19 at the Metropolitan. Raitt—who was friendly with but not related to his famous singing namesake, John—plans to make the Metropolitan a home for Broadway singers and triple threats to do intimate cabaret in New York.

Raitt also has some other interesting things in the works: the musical Grave White Way and an intriguing "black Sondheim" revue called Mixed Company, conceived and headlined by the formidable Billy Porter, which has its first public workshop at the end of month at New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theatre, a popular out-of-town tryout venue located at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. Rumor has it that Porter was very nearly cast as the Witch in the recent Into the Woods revival, and that his take on some of Sondheim's material is pretty profoundly perception-changing. For my part, I recall his silky rendition of "Alfie" at a benefit Megan Mullally did at the Evidence Room some years ago.